The Webster University does not find India attractive, at least for now. But, with its campuses already spread in nine countries, it aims to turn out students who can contribute to any country or culture.
“Though Webster University has many campuses in various countries, its entry into India, based on the present regulations, doesn't look too attractive for the time being. Nevertheless, it is in our strategic Global Master Plan 2015; but what form it will take is too early to say,” Ratish Thakur, Rector, Webster University, U.S., has said. While on a visit to Coimbatore, he shared the present achievements and long-term goals of the university with The Hindu.
The Webster University, founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1915, is marching towards its centenary. In the 1970s, the university started to spread its wings and went about establishing sites in countries where world-class education had still not reached the students in those parts. The latest country where Webster has set foot is Thailand. It has two campuses here.
According to Mr. Thakur, the selection of the countries is based on the need of the group of people who live there. “The content of each programme offered in all the campuses is the same, irrespective of the country it is located in. This is to ensure that all our students, wherever they might be, will get an opportunity to develop as global citizens and learn to live and work and contribute to any country or culture,” he said.
How does the university realise this mission? It has something called a ‘student mobility programme', wherein a student pursuing a course in a campus in the U.S. can opt to do a semester in any other campus in any country. For this ‘study abroad' scheme, the university sponsors the student's travel expenses.
“This enables the student to continue the same course content in a different setting where he gets the additional benefit of getting to know a new culture, new teaching methodology, and also an opportunity to learn the local language, norms and ethnicity,” said Mr. Thakur. The university also has another scheme called the ‘site transfer' scheme by which a student can opt to do the rest of the course in another campus.
For those who cannot opt for either of the above, the university has an alternative scheme called the ‘faculty mobility programme' by which a faculty from a particular campus is sent to teach the same course in another campus for a semester.
Attributing the popularity of the university to the student mobility programme, Mr. Thakur said the Trust that manages the institutions has many plans lined up for the future that will benefit the international students. As regards the university's entry into India, Mr. Thakur maintained that the implications of the passing of the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, is to be seen before taking decisions as to whether Webster will make an independent entry or in partnerships with another university. Those interested in knowing more about Webster University can visit www.webster.edu.